Finding Time for Me!

This message sets out to provide you with practical tips to address the common pressures on our time. It seems to be a common symptom of our age that everyone is becoming swamped with priorities on their time, and finding that there is less and less opportunity to just sit, relax and do ‘nothing’ without feeling that you should be somewhere else, with someone else or doing something else (or even all three).

Typical scenarios include

  • The pressure of being a very busy working mum
    • Trying to be perfect at work, and as a wife/mother/daughter
    • Feeling torn – “when I’m at home I should be at work, and when I’m at work I should be at home”
  • Putting others needs above your own in order to keep the peace, avoid arguments, or ensure everyone else is happy.
  • Feelings of guilt around “it’s selfish to have me-time” or “other peoples’ needs are more important than my own”.

There’s certainly no shortage of advice around about what to do.  There are hundreds of books on the shelves about managing our time, creating the perfect lifestyle, auditing our life etc.  If only we had time to sit down and read them!

Along with that are the numerous messages on the TV and Media about how we “should be living our lives” – how to re-decorate your home, de-clutter your life, have perfect children, the perfect relationship, dress beautifully, look gorgeous (all the time!).

Then there’s the ‘simple’ matter of, being a wife, mother, daughter, holding down a career ……the consistent cry seems to be “I never have time for me – I spend all my time taking care of everyone else’s needs and fulfilling all my obligations, there’s none left over for me”.

Maybe you once had dreams and ambitions about what you wanted to do and what you wanted to achieve, but they seem to have been lost along the way?  Instead you are swamped by a busy life and you always come last.  Indeed you may even have developed a belief that it’s selfish to put yourself first (or even second or third!).

One of my personal frustrations with many of the standard tips and pages of advice out there is that while they might have some useful and practical actions, very few, if any, provide a means to address the underlying causes to the problems.

It seems to me that most people know what they could do to be more in control of their time.

The key questions is – “If you already know the theory and what actions you could take to organise your life and make time for yourself – what stops you putting them into action?”

In answer to this question, there are some very practical steps you can take straight away – as well as things you can do to explore some of the deeper values and beliefs you may hold which may have driven your past behaviours.

Step One – Recognise the problem

It’s really not helpful to be the only one who can ‘cope’.  What are you denying to others (and yourself) in running this pattern?

  • If you are always there to cook the kids’ meals, do their washing and ironing and clear up after them, how are they going to cope when they leave home to go to university or get their own place?
  • If you are always the peace-maker, the one who says “yes” or gives in, what image of yourself are you portraying to the world and what kind of role-model are you being for your children/family/friends?  Is that how you really want to be perceived?

Step Two – Consider your options

Keep an accurate log of what you are doing at the moment, and then ask yourself…

  • Who or what can help with some of these things?
  • What do you really enjoy doing – and how can you do more of it?
  • What don’t you enjoy or what is someone else good at?
  • What resources (practical and emotional) are available to you and how can you enlist that support?

Step Three – Begin to change your behaviour

Start with small goals that are achievable very quickly.  For example,

  • Phone a friend you haven’t spoken to for a while,
  • Buy some things which only you like as a treat and make sure the rest of the household knows to leave them alone,
  • Buy some wonderful bath oils and candles and set aside 45 minutes for a luxurious, pampering bath with a ‘do not disturb notice’ on the door!
  • Allocate 15 minutes a day (to start with) as ‘me-time’ – go for a short walk, read a book, listen to some music – do whatever you really want to do at the time.
  • Start noticing the tiny initial improvements in how you feel.

Be patient and stick with it.  If you start behaving differently it may be strange to those around you at first.  They may assume you’ll soon go back to how you were, and when they begin to realise that this is the new you there may be some adverse reactions.  The ‘system’ will react because people prefer the status quo and will strive (maybe unconsciously) to keep things the same.

Step Five – Explore the inner you

Notice what you are saying to yourself as you read through these ideas.  Are you feeling enthusiastic or excited, or are you already giving yourself messages that start with “I can’t…” or “I shouldn’t…” or I ought to…”?

If so, these are indications of some of the deeper beliefs and values you have held which have led to your current behaviour and which may be holding you back. Of course, they will have seemed normal to you, and therefore not something you have ever thought to question in the past.  But just take a moment now to ask yourself…

  •  What does coping do for you?
  • What do you get out of taking it all on yourself?  Logically if you weren’t getting something out of it, you wouldn’t continue.
  • How can you still get that, without putting everyone else first?
  • Is it important to you to ‘be perfect’ – what would happen if you weren’t? It’s worth remembering that no-one is!

Once you can answer these questions honestly for yourself, you will be well on the way to making the changes you want in your life.

Next Steps

For additional advice and support, feel free to contact us by phone or email.  We’ll be happy to talk to you on a one-to-one basis and also explain how our workshops and individual coaching sessions can help achieve your goals even more quickly.

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